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The Military Shark Science Technology

Boeing's Enormous Navy Laser Cannon 291

An anonymous reader writes "Boeing is working to build a huge, incredibly powerful, soon-to-be-seafaring laser for the US Navy. This free electron laser can produce light of any wavelength (ie, color) directly from an electron beam, and gets an energy boost from a superconducting particle accelerator. Once it's onboard ships, the laser could be used to shoot down cruise missiles and artillery shells."
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Boeing's Enormous Navy Laser Cannon

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  • by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @05:51PM (#36520374) []

    The Senate just drove a stake into the Navy’s high-tech heart. The directed energy and electromagnetic weapons intended to protect the surface ships of the future? Terminated.

    The Free Electron Laser and the Electromagnetic Rail Gun are experimental weapons that the Navy hope will one day burn missiles careening toward their ships out of the sky and fire bullets at hypersonic speeds at targets thousands of miles away. Neither will be ready until at least the 2020s, the Navy estimates. But the Senate Armed Services Committee has a better delivery date in mind: never.

    The committee approved its version of the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill on Friday, priced to move at $664.5 billion, some $6.4 billion less than what the Obama administration wanted. The bill “terminates” the Free Electron Laser and the rail gun, a summary released by the committee gleefully reports.

    “The determination was that the Free Electron Laser has the highest technical risk in terms of being ultimately able to field on a ship, so we thought the Navy could better concentrate on other laser programs,” explains Rick DeBobes, the chief of staff for the committee. “With the Electromagnetic Rail Gun, the committee felt the technical challenges to developing and fielding the weapon would be daunting, particularly [related to] the power required and the barrel of the gun having limited life.”

  • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Informative)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @05:59PM (#36520518)

    Imagine the size of those sharks required for such huge laser weapons.

    That joke is now 14 years, 1 month, and 19 days old.

  • Re:The laser (Score:4, Informative)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @07:48PM (#36521876) Journal
    While a rail gun has physical limits on the barrel, the lasers do not. The issue as you say, is the amount of energy INSTANTLY and prolonged available to it. For example, if a 5 second shot drains all energy and it will take 5 minutes to come back up, well, this would be worthless. OTH, if you have multiple ultra-caps capable of being charged and can take multiple shots while these are charging with say 1 second downtime, then you are in pretty good shape.
    Part of the reason why I support this is that it will require the ships to have loads of ultra-caps. That will mean that they will buy LOADS of them and drive the tech. In doing that, it will lower the prices for cars. Basically, I see this as a win-win all around.

    Oddly, I have been writing my congress man pushing for us to do x-prizes for beaming and storing energy. The idea is that we can beam it into Afghanistan (or other bases), but also can help a ship that is in a prolonged battle. In fact, one idea would be to have an Aircraft Carrier able to beam energy to nearby destroyers so that they can quickly fire. Win-win-destroy all around :)

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"